The impact of the coronavirus travel ban is being sharply felt at Sovereign Hill, with cancellations of up to 70 per cent projected for Chinese visitors over the coming months.
Sara Quon, the chief executive of the attraction, said the development was "particularly challenging" ahead of the attraction's lunar New Year program.
The holiday is the busiest time for Chinese nationals to travel, which means the timing of the China government's ban on outgoing tours could not have been worse for the tourism industry.
Ms Quon said Sovereign Hill had invested significantly in attracting overseas visitors, particularly from China, and the impact would be felt locally.
"We have a proud Chinese history here on the Goldfields and want to ensure that this history is shared and experienced by all who visit," she told The Courier.
Celebrations marking the Lunar New Year were held at Sovereign Hill last Sunday and will also take place again on February 2.
This sector is important to our organisation but also many other tourism and hospitality businesses in the region. The impact will be feltSara Quon, CEO of Sovereign Hill
Just over 1.3 million Chinese nationals visited Australia each year, with the country accounting for 58 million visitor nights - by far the most represented overseas nation.
Tourism from China also brings in more than $12 billion to the Australian economy.
Many thousands of Chinese tourists expected to come to Australia over the next couple of months have had to cancel their trips.
The ban is reportedly due to last at least until the end of February.
While tour groups have been banned from travelling, individual Chinese travellers are still permitted to leave the country.
"We will continue to support the travel trade in China to ensure that a rapid recovery can be made and visitation growth supported through this challenging time," Ms Quon said.
"This sector is important to our organisation but also many other tourism and hospitality businesses in the region. The impact will be felt.
"Sovereign Hill remain dedicated to working with our state and federal tourism bodies to encourage regional dispersal from within our domestic visitation.
"It is too early to predict long-term impacts as the situation is still unfolding. Ballarat and the Goldfields has been fortunate during this incredibly challenging bushfire season and thoughts are with the strongly impacted areas of the state and our fellow tourism providers."
The CEO of the Ballarat Regional Tourism Natalie O'Brien described domestic and international tourism as "an integral and growing part of the local economy".
She said industry was concerned about the both the immediate and longer-term impact of the bushfires and coronavirus and would continue to work closely with state and national bodies.
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